MANILA, Philippines—Like its bigger brother the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) is now refusing the entry of new flights pending improvements in its outdated facilities.
In a letter to the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), the MCIA Authority (MCIAA) asked for the deferral in the approval of all new flights during peak times due to limited space at the airport’s passenger terminal.
“The MCIA Authority (MCIAA) as an operator of an aerodrome catering to both domestic and international flights would like to respectfully inform your office that the international passenger terminal is currently experiencing congestion due to limited facilities enabling to handle more flights,” MCIAA General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete said.
He added that this congestion would reach its peak between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. every day—which is when the departures and arrivals of most budget airlines are scheduled.
“Due to heavy congestion of flights, it is respectfully requested that applications or requests to operate an international flight, whether charter or regular…, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. be deferred,” Villarete said.
Villarete’s letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, was addressed to CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla and dated January 28.
Villarete asked that the approval for new international flights be deferred until the completion of all works to expand the existing MCIA passenger terminal.
The expansion of the current terminal building is the first phase of the P17.5-billion public-private partnership (PPP) project for the development and operation of MCIA currently being bid out by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
The existing MCIA terminal houses both domestic and international operations and has an annual capacity of 4.5 million passengers. Passenger traffic reached 6.77 million passengers last year.
The DOTC is currently bidding out the contract for the expansion, and operations and maintenance of the MCIA.
A total of 11 companies have bought pre-qualification documents for the Cebu airport project. These include Metro Pacific Investments Corp., JG Summit Holdings Inc., Aboitiz Land Inc., Filinvest Development Corp. and Filinvest Land Inc., Macroasia Corp., San Miguel Corp., Prime Power Holdings Corp., Megawide, GMR Infrastructure, First Philippine Holdings Corp. and SM Investments Corp.
According to DOTC, MCIA is the second-most important airport in the Philippines in terms of passenger traffic catering to both the industrial and tourism sectors.
Several conglomerates have already announced plans to form joint ventures that will take on the project. This week, Manuel V. Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and the Gokongwei family’s JG Summit Holdings formalized a deal for the eventual creation of a consortium to bid for the MCIA project.
Conglomerate Ayala Corp. has also announced a partnership with Cebu’s Aboitiz family to pursue the project.
The first phase involves the expansion of the current terminal to allow it to handle 8 million passengers a year. A second terminal will then be built to cater to another 8 million annually.
The winning bidder shall be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the new passenger terminal and the existing one for a concession period of 20 years. After the concession agreement, the private partner will turn over the facility and its operation to the government.